Baked orzo smothered in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce with broccoli is the perfect side dish for just about anything – chicken, meatloaf, steak, pork and burgers too.
You can also serve it as a vegetarian main dish if you like or with your holiday meals.
Orzo is a pasta shaped like rice only a little bigger and softer. For this dish you cook the orzo first with frozen broccoli – right in the same pan and then toss it with cheesy sauce.
Before you make the cheddar cheese sauce you cook up a little onion and garlic to add flavor, remove it from the pan and use the same one for the sauce.
The decadent sauce starts with a roux – butter and flour to help thicken it along with milk, a touch of Dijon, cubed sharp cheddar cheese and Parmesan. Once it’s smooth and creamy you toss it with the orzo mixture and pour it into a greased casserole pan to bake.
A handful of shredded sharp cheddar is sprinkled over the top along with a smattering of Japanese panko crumbs for crunch.
A mere twenty minutes later you have a hot, delicious dish ready for the table. You can’t go wrong.
Everyone will love it.
- 12 ounces orzo
- 16 ounces frozen broccoli florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- sea or kosher salt and fresh black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 8 ounce block sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup Japanese Panko or seasoned Italian bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9x9 or 10x6 casserole dish or baking pan.
- In a large saucepan cook the orzo and broccoli together according to the orzo package directions. Drain and add to a large mixing bowl.
- In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Cook the onion and garlic with a couple dashes each salt and pepper about 5 minutes stirring often.
- Remove the onion and garlic to the bowl with the orzo.
- Over medium heat melt the butter, whisk in the flour and cook 2 minutes, stirring often.
- Slowly whisk in the milk and Dijon mustard. Bring to a simmer and simmer 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Stir in ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
- Turn the heat down to low and add the cubed cheese a handful at a time whilst stirring. Stir until all the cheddar is melted then stir in the Parmesan. Remove from heat.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the orzo and stir to combine.
- Pour the orzo into the pan and spread it out evenly. Top with the shredded sharp cheddar and Panko crumbs.
- Bake 20 minutes. Let it sit 5 minutes before serving.